Emerg Med J doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-200510
  • Original article

What is the burden of alcohol-related injuries in an inner city emergency department?

Press Release
  1. Jonathan Benger
  1. Emergency Department, Bristol Royal Infirmary, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Rebecca Hoskins, Academic Department of Emergency Care, Emergency Department, Bristol Royal Infirmary, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol BS2 8HW, UK; rebecca.hoskins{at}
  1. Contributors RH designed the data collection tools. Both authors analysed the data. RH drafted and revised the paper, and is the guarantor. JB revised the paper.

  • Accepted 15 March 2012
  • Published Online First 20 June 2012


Background The annual cost to the NHS of alcohol-related injury and illness is estimated to be £2.7 billion. Alcohol-related violence has become a concerning public health issue. This study set out to establish the burden of alcohol-related violence in an inner city UK emergency department (ED).

Methods This single centre study was undertaken in the ED of the Bristol Royal Infirmary. This department serves an inner city population. An independent researcher administered a questionnaire to every patient who attended during the study period. A questionnaire was also administered to the treating clinician to ascertain the diagnosis, and whether the patient's attendance was related to alcohol use.

Results 14% (n=111) of participants felt that their attendance at the ED was related to alcohol. 11% of all injured patients felt it was due to alcohol consumption. 3% of patients attended with an alcohol-related illness. The treating clinicians reported that 21% of all patients in this study attended with a problem either directly or indirectly attributable to alcohol.

Discussion The number of attendances attributable to alcohol-related injury and illness was at least 14% of all patients. One third of patients presenting with an alcohol-related illness or injury required admission to hospital. If these figures are extrapolated, the number of patients presenting with alcohol-related injury is in excess of 7000 attendances to the Bristol Royal Infirmary annually, or nearly 2 million ED patients every year in England and Wales, resulting in 640 000 admissions.


  • Funding This study was supported by NHS Bristol, South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol BS1 3NX, UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by North Somerset and South Bristol NHS Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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